Matt Towery

In both cases however, political expediency won out over raw emotions. Johnson, who would have loved to deep-six RFK's political career, instead begged him to stay on as attorney general after JFK was killed. While Bobby's heart was never completely in it, he rode out the term as attorney general under Johnson, finally escaping to run successfully for the position of U.S. senator from New York.

Johnson struggled over whether to work with RFK, or to try to stifle him so as to keep him from leveraging his cabinet role to gain higher office down the road -- maybe even Johnson's job as president.

Whether that was Bobby Kennedy's goal from the onset after the death of his brother is somewhat doubtful. But both Johnson and RFK knew that they had to dance with each other. Each needed the other to keep his own train running.

Johnson feared an immediate Bobby Kennedy challenge for the presidential nomination in 1964, and for good reason. When Kennedy introduced a film documenting the life of his brother at the '64 Democratic National Convention, he received a 22-minute standing ovation.

But Bobby Kennedy needed Johnson as well. Johnson had passed sweeping legislation and was broadly popular with the American public going into the '64 elections. RFK needed LBJ in order to win New York's Senate seat in a big way.

Most know that by late 1967, Vietnam had destroyed Johnson, and rumors of a Kennedy bid for the nomination for president were rampant. Johnson was basically forced out of the race by a too-narrow victory over Sen. Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary, and by a decision by Kennedy to run against him. An assassin's bullet ended any chance to see where history might have taken Bobby Kennedy.

The Clinton name remains a powerful one in national politics. Bill Clinton, who has been unusually quiet in recent months, ended his presidency having survived an impeachment trial. He also retained his high approval ratings.

Has Hillary been given the "RFK treatment"? It's possible. Has Obama -- a la Johnson -- moved to shore up his relationship with Secretary Clinton to avoid a potential rift? Likely.

Here's the key question: How long will this Obama-Clinton dance keep toe-tapping? What if Obama becomes wildly unpopular? Could Hillary move to reclaim the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party; the one that brought her husband such high poll numbers?

Both sides will deny it, but never say never. History has been known to repeat.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
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